Julie Q Brush, aka The Lawyer Whisperer, often gives excellent career advice to lawyers. Her answer to this question (in the article linked to below) is no exception: "My male colleague aggressively promotes himself and is considered a leader. I want to do the same, but as a woman I feel like I’ll be judged negatively. What should I do?"
It has been said that many women lawyers regard "self-promotion as an onerous task and that it is pushy and arrogant to sing your own praises" (http://communities.lawsociety.org.uk/women-lawyers/features-and-interviews/features/self-promotion-part-one-insights/5056936.article).
I know that I was raised by very traditional parents who drummed it into me not to draw attention to my achievements, skills and abilities. It was a lesson to be unlearned that took me many years. I hope that today's young women lawyers don't have the same level of conditioning to overcome but, from the tone of the question to The Lawyer Whisperer, I suspect we still have some way to go.
Certainly, as Julie Q Brush points out, "Promoting oneself is an important and necessary part of building a successful career."
Recognition that a lot of women struggle with self-promotion, can fear negative responses to it and that it is an issue that can hold women back from career progression is needed by law firms. Firms seeking to improve the percentage of women partners they have, can perhaps include in their diversity programmes training aimed at helping and supporting women to promote their skills and abilities.
Following the specific advice that Juie Q Brush gives in this article should help too!
Your male colleague is doing what he can to compete in his work environment. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You view his success through self-promotion as a bad thing because you fear you will be treated differently if you do the same. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. But you’ll never know until you buck up and start tooting your own horn. Don’t direct your ire at him…forget about him. Focus on YOU. And put that energy into your own promotion strategy. Because if you’re not going to do it, you can be darn sure no one else will.